They came from all walks of life — to race for life.
And yesterday they turned the grounds of Stormont into a pink mountain, in their T-shirts and the large cowboy hats they had adorned for the occasion.
Some 5,000 women turned out for the ladies-only event in the May sunshine — not running for their lives, but the lives of others.
Indeed, many chose to jog or meander around the 5km circuit at their leisure in a bid to smash this year’s fundraising target of £336,600 for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work.
Many had pinned poignant labels to their T-shirts carrying the names of loved ones they were running for. All around were the names of cherished friends and relatives who had lost their battles against the disease, as well as those fighting to overcome cancer.
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Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the race were three sisters whose youngest sibling, Marie McGurk, died recently of cancer.
Michelle Early (46), Caroline Lenagh (40) and Siobhan McGeary (44) lost their beloved sister to sarcoma, a rare form of the disease, last October.
The 36-year-old Co Armagh teacher passed away within 20 months of being diagnosed.
“She was the youngest girl and she was very special,” said Michelle, a civil servant.
“It’s been a horrible seven months, but by doing this at least we’re giving something back.”
Caroline, a medical secretary, said they raised around £2,500 for charity, adding: “It was emotional starting it, but we’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”
On her eighth event outing, Holywood woman Linda Blacker completed the course in one hour and two minutes, accompanied by four friends.
She was running for her father, Samuel Millen, who died at 76.
“My dad had lung cancer and he passed away two weeks ago, on May 11,” Linda said.
“He was diagnosed on March 12 and it was an awful shock because he went downhill so quickly.
“He only had one radiation treatment and he chose to stay in Bangor Care Home until the end, where the staff were fantastic with him.
“The tumour went into his lymph nodes and the cancer spread really quickly, but at least he didn’t suffer.”
She added: “I was also doing the Race for my sister-in-law Flora (41), who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She��s still fighting.”
Among 55 Ballymena Tesco workers to tackle the punishing Prince of Wales Avenue leading up to Parliament buildings was 19-year-old Amy Thompson, whose great-aunt Doreen Blair was diagnosed six months ago.
“It was great fun and I really enjoyed the atmosphere,” she said.
“I did it in 45 minutes, but I hope to come back next year and improve on my time.”
Meanwhile, for Cookstown woman Alison McKay (34) yesterday was all about her grandmother Eileen Faulkner who died from breast cancer 11 years ago.
She was joined by work colleagues Pauline McGuckin (35), 45-year-old Evelyn McKenna and Lisea Greer (35).